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Tuesday, 14th June 2005

Tampa, FL - Media Reviews

Def Leppard have a blast By Rick Gershman

Few things could be more humbling: You're looking around the concert hall where the band you adored as a teen is playing, and realize it is packed with thirtysomethings. Heck, even fortysomethings. What are all these people, old enough to be parents of teenagers - heck, a lot of those kids even tagged along - doing at a Def Leppard concert? It hits you when singer Joe Elliott reminds a crowd of 9,576 fans - as he did Tuesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum - that the British pop-metal band first played Tampa 25 years ago. And that's when you realize: You just think you're still young and pretty.

Okay, so you're still pretty. But 36 no longer qualifies as young. And when Def Leppard's monster albums Pyromania and Hysteria (each sold more than 10-million copies) were released, you were a teenager. Wow, time flies.

But time does provide perspective on questions that haunted you - okay, occurred to you now and again - for years. Why was Def Leppard so popular? Were they less silly than the other pop-metal bands of the 1980s?

Actually, no. They were sillier. At times, much, much sillier. Especially on Hysteria, which provided the bulk of Tuesday's setlist. Which makes sense, since the band released something like two-thirds of the album's 12 tracks as singles. Could there be anything siller than a chorus - as per the night's second tune - that goes Let's get / Let's get / Let's get / Let's get rocked? Actually, yes. It could be a chorus that goes Are you getting it? / Yes, armageddon it!. I'm guessing you don't need me to provide the song titles. Those two alone make a chorus like An' I want / An' I need / An' I love / Animal positively poetic.

The catch is that Def Leppard and super-producer Mutt Lange, who co-wrote much of the band's music before moving on to wife-to-be Shania Twain, knew it was silly. And while other groups of the day actually took themselves halfway seriously, these Brits were just having a blast.

And while the Forum was at half-capacity, give this to the band: They had just about every member of the crowd standing throughout the first half of the show. They play great, and they looked pretty good, too. Eliott still looks presentable in black leather pants, and shirt-bereft guitarist Phil Collen was nothing short of buff. He was pale, but come on - he's British. The group stuck to its hits but deviated here and there, including entertaining-though-rote covers of Badfinger's No Matter What and David Essex's Rock On. The audience played along, even when the group followed up its power ballad Love Bites with its puny ballad Two Steps Behind just one song later.

Gods of War, an antiwar rocker, was one of Hysteria's lesser cuts, but it stood out with its machine-gun special effects and some Dubya-bashing video footage. But many in the crowd grabbed a break during the dull ballad Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad? from 1992's Adrenalize. Regardless, the boys put on a solid show, sounding like a still-vital group after all these - can it really be that many - years.

By sptimes 2005.

Def Leppard 'Pour Some Sugar' On Fans By Curtis Ross

Def Leppard delivered the hit-filled goods Tuesday night during a satisfying performance before a St. Pete Times Forum crowd of 9,576. The British quintet is touring in support of its recently released best-of, "Rock of Ages," and the crowd responded by singing lustily along with nearly every number. In fact, the only new, so to speak, songs Def Leppard pulled out were remakes of songs by Badfinger ("No Matter What") and David Essex ("Rock On") both slated for an upcoming covers album due in the fall.

Beyond that, the show was built around the hits that solidified the band's standing in the 1980s: "Foolin'," "Love Bites," and "Armageddon It" among them. The band opened with "Action," a song by The Sweet, a 1970s outfit that combined hard-rock muscle and relentless pop hooks, a model for Def Leppard if ever there was one. The midtempo "Hysteria" highlighted the band's keening high harmonies and also some sharp twin-guitar work by Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen. "Rocket" proved to be as fine an arm-pumping arena-rock anthem as any.

An acoustic "Two Steps Behind" slowed things down briefly. "Gods of War" drew a smattering of boos. Its anti- war message was illustrated by an accompanying video that included footage of then-Gov. George W. Bush extending his middle finger to the camera.

The biggest hits: "Photograph," "Rock of Ages," "Bringin' on the Heartbreak'' and "Pour Some Sugar on Me'' - were saved for the end of the set and the encore, by which time audience momentum alone could have carried the show.

Tesla, a blue-collar American analogue to Def Leppard, opened with a well-received set featuring "What You Give" and their hit remake of Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs."

By TBO/Tampa Tribune 2005.


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